Did that phrase give you goosebumps? It did for me.
Do you realize how much of your energy and power that decision-making takes from you over the course of a day?
Let’s look at how HSPs approach decision making. We thoroughly examine (and sometimes research) every aspect of a decision’s outcomes. This careful weighing of options isn’t easy. Plus, we hate regret. Making a bad decision is like a mini-failure.
For me, deciding what to eat takes a lot of decision power. I love, love, love to eat out; it’s one of my favorite things to do. However, I want to be healthy, not gain weight, and not spend too much money eating out. The internal battle between wanting a giant burrito or munching on fruit takes a lot of energy. Every single day I fight this battle. Do I eat what I crave, or something that’s good for me?
What if that decision was taken away from me?
How awesome would that be?
Well, as it turns out, it isn’t rocket science. It just takes some willpower and planning ahead. It’s easy to find weekly meal plans online and in cookbooks. I have decided that my goal is to choose a meal plan (well, ok, that’s one decision…), prepare all the food ahead of time, and stick to it for a full week.
With just a little extra preparation, and yes–a decision or two–I can avoid the daily mental battle about what to eat. This feels exciting to me.
So I’ve admitted one of my big daily decision battles. What daily decisions bog you down? Here are some you might experience:
Working out. I hate working out, but I know I have to do it. Sometimes I bargain with myself. “Well, I took a long walk today–maybe I don’t need to go to the gym?” or “I will skip the gym today but go really hard tomorrow.”
The solution? For me, I choose a gym that’s extremely close to my home or workplace. This gives me less of an excuse to skip it since I have to practically drive by the gym to get home from work. Also, try a quota system. Tell yourself that you have to go the gym X times per week. This works for me, because it gives me the power to choose which days I skip. Like a cheat day.
What to wear. I put a lot of thought into my outfits. Not because I’m stylish–heck no. It’s because I don’t want to be caught unprepared. I have to check the weather forecast every day and dress appropriately. If I know I’ll be walking a lot, that means comfortable shoes, and sporty shoes mean I have to wear a sporty outfit. If I’ll be outside in the sun, I want to wear a hat, which also affects the rest of my outfit.
My solution? Fewer clothes = fewer decisions. Spend more for quality items that are multi-functional and don’t wear out. If you have less to choose from, that’s less energy spent deciding what to wear.
Whether or not to go to a social event. Many HSPs are introverts, which means that being in social situations can take a lot of our energy. I like hanging out with my friends, but after a few hours, I’m spent. I feel guilty about not wanting to attend some social events. I don’t have a “legitimate” reason why I don’t want to go, other than just not feeling like it.
My solution? Make a quota system for the week or the month. Plan that you will go out X times per week. If you’ve already attended your quota for the week, then you don’t have to feel bad about skipping an event. If you have open-minded friends, you could even tell them about your quota system so they understand why you turn them down. (“It’s not personal; I hit my quota!”)
Should I spend money on [fill in the blank]? I like to strike a balance between being frugal and knowing when to treat myself. If I find something I like in the store, but I know I don’t need it, I will often spend several minutes going over every possible aspect of the purchase in the my head. Is it worth it? Will I wear/use it a lot? What else could I buy with that money?
The solution? Walk away. If I’m still thinking about the item a day or two later, that’s a good indication that I truly do want it, and maybe it’s worth a splurge. If I forget about it, then obviously it’s not that important after all.
What should I work on first? Do you sometimes feel paralyzed by having too many things to do? A reader named Brontosaurus left a great suggestion in the comments. Use Random.org’s List Randomizer. Type in your to-do list, click a button, and the tasks will be shuffled randomly. Then get to work!
Do you have any tips on how to eliminate decisions from your day? I’d love to hear them.
I first heard the phrase “decision-free life” in a recent interview between Marie Forleo and Susan Cain.
Related Reading: Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, ranted about how the ban on plastic grocery bags in California just adds to all the complexities of life. Sounds like an HSP to me!
Listen to my podcast episode about Decision-Free Living below:
I amazed myself buying a used Kenmore clothes dryer last month for $185. Needed it, liked the family-run business we located, and did not want to spend several hundred bucks. The decision happened in a 24 hour window and I was at peace the entire time. Since my usual mode is researching the hell out of something before deciding, I think i’ve had a breakthrough!
haha! Thanks for sharing, Deborah! I’ve definitely gotten to the point where I am researching something SO hard and I just go… whatever. I don’t care anymore… just buy it!! It’s happening right now with a car I need to buy….
I often use a coin toss to make hard decisions for me. Random.org is a huge tool for me when I’m feeling anxious about decisions. If you have a list of things to do and don’t know where to start you can even put the list in the list randomizer and it will choose the order for you.
Thanks for your comment! I never thought about having a random number generator pick a number for you…what a great idea! I might add this to the post.
Wow – this is great!
I created a menu planner template a few months ago and didn’t even realize I was starting to live decision-free. You have some great suggestions. I am going to try and incorporate some of them.
If you are interested in downloading my menu planner you can find it here –> http://emilymarko.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/menu-madness/
You can’t lump all HSPs together like that. Our decision making process might depend on an ocean of possibilities – especially considering how complicated we can be.
I say this with the utmost respect, it’s just other aspects of our kind might highly contradict many of the examples you have given.
Hi PF, thanks for your comment. I would love to hear more about your thoughts–what aspects of HSP do you think contradict with the examples?
I think what I meant was this:-
I do agree, the pain of decision making can be a bitch.. constantly trying to think of the ‘best’ decision to make and perpetually going over the details, but I feel for me, if I limit myself to doing X, Y and Z to bypass this tiring process I will go against another part of my nature, which is deeply feeling. So I try hard to make decisions based on what ‘feels right’ which gives my life more of a beautiful flow and also pays attention to the instinctual/ intuitive side of myself. My mind still frantically searches for the best option, but I’m not overly limited in my options and I also have the excitement of spontaneity.
Of course this may only pertain to myself and other HSPs might not know what I’m talking about! But this method works better for me due to the nature of my personality and, I feel, that element of HSPs that make them profound feelers and sensers.
Hope this helps to clarify =j
Hi Kelly, I recently found your site and have loved reading your blog posts. Something that’s worked for me when I feel like I have SO much to do, is I’ll have my list, then I’ll put numbers next to items in what I think should be the priority. If I start getting distracted or overwhelmed by thinking of everything else I need to decide/do, I’ll just look at what number I’m on to block out the tangents and focus on one decision at a time.
I’m not sure if anyone else does this and I never learned it from anywhere, I just found it worked for me!